Want to be a designer right now? Just look in the mirror, and say, “I’m a designer.”
Okay, I know that sounds like a lame self-help motivational trick, but hear me out:
Everyone designs, even you
First, what is designing? Before I write a dissertation to answer that question, here’s a concise definition from Nobel Prize winner and Carnegie Mellon professor, Herbert Simon:
Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.
The intellectual activity that produces material artifacts is no different fundamentally from the one that prescribes remedies for a sick patient or the one that devises a new sales plan for a company or a social welfare policy for a state
In other words, designing is an activity that everyone does. You design everyday, from planning a vacation to laying out your living room to creating a Powerpoint presentation. The difference between so-called non-designers and professional designers, is that the latter happens to do it for a living.
So call yourself a designer now
My advice for anyone wanting to be a professional designer (you want to get paid for it), is to call yourself a designer early and often.
If you’re reluctant, you’re not alone. I’ve interviewed students from schools such as the California College of the Art, San Jose State University, and The Academy of Art University who are also afraid to label themselves “designers”. Unless they have an official degree, they are simply “students.” The fear is that they are not yet skilled or experienced enough.
My response to this fear? You may not be a good designer now. In fact, you may be a terrible designer–even with a degree. But how will you improve, if you don’t get the courage to identify as one?
It’ll take years, maybe decades, to become a great designer. You can’t start, however, until you take two seconds to say, “I’m a designer.”